Wyoming went down to San Marcos, TX last week and got the job done. It wasn’t the prettiest win I have ever seen, but it was a road win and that is always big, especially for a young football team. The Cowboys again relied heavily on timely turnovers and Cooper Rothe’s leg. This week, the Cowboys host the Big Sky conference’s Idaho Vandals in what should easily be the Cowboys’ easiest game in 2019. Now, time for me to share my thoughts.
- Road wins are always good wins.
I know it is cliché, but a win is a win. I for one, would much rather analyze, critique and play “Monday morning quarterback” after a win rather than a loss. The fact of the matter is that a young, inexperienced Wyoming football team went on the road for the first time this season and came home with an important win. They even covered the spread, to boot.
Now, I understand there are some concerns with certain aspects of this team. They have started down 2 scores in both of their first two games, the offense has attempted 7 field goals to just scored 4 touchdowns, and the passing offense has been more than underwhelming. With that being said, there’s a lot of good things going on. The defense is only allowing 2.6 yards per carry, the Cowboys have a turnover margin of +5, Cooper Rothe has been excellent, the running game is averaging 243.5 yards/game, and the offensive line has only allowed 1 sack in 2 games.
The bottom line is this. The Pokes are 2-0 going into their easiest game on the schedule and have an opportunity to get halfway to bowl eligibility with 9 games to play. The start of the season has been more than anyone could have hoped for, and I only expect this football team to get better.
- The offense’s inability to score touchdowns inside the red zone is a huge concern.
As noted above, the Cowboy offense has only scored 4 touchdowns and they have attempted 7 field goals. This is a major concern. When you take a closer look at the numbers, it gets even more concerning. The Cowboys have been in the red zone 6 times and have only 2 touchdowns in those 6 visits. 4 of Rothe’s field goals have only been from 23 yards or closer, this means the Pokes are getting the ball to the 5-yard line or closer and settling for field goals. They have been fortunate to get wins in their first two games, but as the Cowboys get ready for conference play, this needs to change. Bohl prides himself on being Cowboy tough and being the more physical team. His offense has 3 capable running backs and a big quarterback that is a well above average runner, they must get the job done when they start first and goal inside the 10.
- The defense has a knack for taking the ball away in key moments.
Through the first two games the Cowboys defense has caused 4 fumbles, recovering 3, intercepted 3 passes, and scored 2 touchdowns. They have taken the ball away in key moments. Against Missouri they got the scoop and score after Mizzou had just put up 14 points at will, they caused and recovered a fumble on the 1 at the end of the half and intercepted a pass in the end zone. Last week, after falling behind 14-3 Braden Smith came up with a huge interception that set up the Cowboys’ first touchdown of the game, then with the Pokes down 1 and Texas State moving the ball, Tyler Hall intercepted a first down pass and took it back 72 yards for a score and the lead.
The defense has come up so big in times of need and this has been important as the offense has struggled to put points on the board. It has been a little bit of bend and don’t break, but that works if you can take the ball away. The Cowboys can’t count on these kinds of plays all year, but they will take it as long as they can get it while the offense searches for their identity.
- Austin Conway has to step up.
The senior WR/PR is one of the most dynamic players in the Mountain West and he can kill opponents in multiple ways. In his career, Conway has caught 109 passes for 4 scores, ran the ball for 270 yards and 3 scores, he has thrown 1 touchdown, and has averaged 15.4 yards per punt return and has taken one back for a score. He is approaching 2,000 career all purpose yards. He is the definition of dynamic, but he has been almost nonexistent in his senior season and the Cowboy offense needs him to step up.
So far this season, Conway has caught 4 passes for 26 yards, ran the ball 3 times for 10, and averaging 11 yards/punt return. He has been pretty good returning punts, but the offensive numbers need to improve. Now, I understand that it’s not all on him. Chambers has only thrown the ball 34 times, completing just 41% and the play calling has been underwhelming at times. Vigen needs to continue to be creative in finding ways to get the ball into Conway’s hands and Conway needs to take advantage of his opportunities. This offense absolutely needs their top playmaker to step up.
- This should be a nice week to let Chambers throw it around a bit.
Idaho is a bad football team. They lost to Penn State 79-7 in week 1 and beat division 2 Central Washington 41-31. The CWU game last weekend was tied at half and Idaho scored a touchdown with 1:35 left to put it away. They have given up 55 points a game, an average 6.2 yards/carry, 14.7 yards/catch, over 500 yards/game and only caused one turnover.
If there was ever a week to let Sean Chambers loose in the air, this should be it. The redshirt freshman is just 14/34 with 195 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception through the first 2 games. I imagine Idaho will load the box in an effort to clog up Wyoming’s powerful running game, this will leave the susceptible to the play action pass and deep ball. Vigen needs to trust his quarterback this week and let him build some confidence because after this week the Cowboys travel to Tulsa for a tough road game and then start conference play. The Cowboys have gotten by the first two weeks with a strong running game and timely turnovers, at some point Chambers will have to throw the ball in order for the Cowboys to win. I need to see some improvement starting this week.
Let’s hear what you think either in the comments below or on twitter @CDub13